the event that left more than 250 injured and three dead. "techknow" featuring mushroom spernts i experiments . happy st. patrick's day. >> hey guys, i'm phil torres. welcome to a very special show of "techknow". yoament yosemite national park. low hello and welcome. i'm phil torres, here to talk about innovations that can change lives. we are doing this in a unique way, this is a show about
science by scientists. let's check out our team of hard core in other words. marita davidson, is on the front lines of a devastating wildfire. and crystal dilworth is a molecular neuroscientist, how police work could stop crime before it happens. lindsay moran, shows us how mushrooms may replace polystyrene packaging. i'm phil torres, that's our team of scientists, now let's do some science.
♪ ♪ >> it has been another fantastic week of science on the road. we've got crystal, lindsay and marita here. marita, you were basically a very high tech firefighter for a week. tell me about this. >> i was on a story to tell us how we fight the rim fire in yosemite. here it is. this is a very unusual piece of technology. it almost looks like an alien insect. they've got it in a hangar and they're going to fly it up to yosemite and going to be eyes in the sky to generate action from the ground. let's check it out. the size and scope of the wildfire burning in yosemite national park is astounding.
larger than the city of chicago at a cost of more than $100 million. the fire that is destroying hundreds of square miles of sensitive ecosystem habitat, for assistance in controlling this inferno, firefighters are turning to the u.s. military for help. called into service and flying high above the flames and smoke of yosemite is the m 1 drone. following tours in iraq and afghanistan, the predator's eye in the sky, remotely piloted aircraft starts its mission east of los angeles. on first thought it's just a completely unusual piece of technology. it looks like a strange alien bug. it's extremely ea aerodynamic from
almost a different planet. >> it is an mq 1 drone aircraft. 55 feet long, bigger than your average general aviation ition plane. >> i see one camera here and one here. >> and this is multiple cameras and he can control it and move it. >> and what are the specs on the cameras, are they intended for different uses? >> a daytime, nighttime, infrared camera, detect body heat and temperature. >> is this sensor the most expensive piece of equipment on the aircraft? >> the ball is approximately half the cost of the aircraft. >> this is the aircraft that's launching today? >> this is launching.
our crew is doing their pr preflight checks and making sure the craft is ready to take off. >> and where are they going? >> they are going up to the eye area and check the fire as it's burning. >> and how long can it stay up? >> with a full fuel load it can stay up over 20 hours. >> where are we headed now? >> this is where the pilots and the sensor operator sit when they control the aircraft. >> this is the cockpit essentially. >> correct. >> the pilot sits on the left and the navigator on the right. >> they are flying the aircraft right now. >> exactly. >> the sensor ball is what the operator is operating. >> that'that's correct. >> it's heading off to yosemite and there will be a hand-off
to march air force base. for about three weeks, jeremy has been embedded with the 160th reconnaissance unit. >> tell me about the magnitude of this fire up at yosemite. >> the accessibility of this fire is what makes it extremely complicated and why it's grown to the size it has. with the accessibility on the -- with the inaccessibility of this fire, there it is, the information is so rapid, so accurate, so immediate, that it's kind of hard to believe that i ever walked these things in the past. we are able to watch realtime information, i can see where the fire is, what the fire is doing, advantageous areas to get firefighters to, maybe catch it in certain areas that you wouldn't see with the naked eye. >> and that potentially lifesaving information is being put to use here. >> a really big operation here.
>> at the california rim fire's incident command center near yosemite national park. >> this is the air national guard mobile emergency center that we've rolled out here to hope facilitate communication in support of the rim fire incident. so this is all of where the magic happens. >> it can throw embers up to a mile ahead of it. so you need to scan a wide scan and then any heat issues that we find. >> one of the big advantages that the mq 1 brought for us was a way to geolocate the fire. to put geographic coordinates against something and immediately transmit those to us where we can transmit those to a map and make them readily available, invaluable. >> what we're looking at is the video feed from the mq 1. the smoke is masking the fire so
it's hard to determine where the fire really is. here he's blended in the infrared, so we can clearly see where the fire line actually is. >> and captain, how do you feel about how this went? >> i think it was a huge success. i've seen some violent things but i'm not sure i've ever seen anything more violent than how strong this fire was, how much it was crowning, how much it was moving and how difficult it was for folks to contain. and i believe 100% that we made a huge difference. >> what has access to this technology brought to the firefighting effort? >> i'd have to give you the primaries, is the life safety, the ability to keep an eye on fire. with regard to firefighting, i think we are scratching the surface as far as its potential.
>> what i love is that it actually works. you know, this was kind of a test run but it really helped those people on the ground. >> it goes beyond firefighting for sure. search and rescue, there are all kinds of cool applications. >> how forthcoming were they with their information? >> they were completely open, super-helpful, very excited and seemed to jump at the opportunity to shed this technology in a the different light. >> we're going from one type of hot spot to a completely different type of hot spot. crystal, tell me about this. >> my assignment was to identify the hot spots of criminal knowledge identification. and i got to ride along with two different police departments to see how that works. >> that sounds very cool. we'll check that out when we come back.
we want to hear what you think. join the conversation by joining >> scared as hell... >> as american troops prepare to leave afghanistan get a first hand look at what life is really like under the taliban. >> we're going to be taken to a place, where they're going to make plans for an attack. >> the only thing i know is, that they say they're not going to withdraw. >> then, immediately after, an america tonight special edition for more inside and analysis. >> why did you decide to go... >> it's extremly important for the western audience to know why these people keep on fighting... ...it's so seldom you get that access to the other side. >> faultlines: on the front lines with the taliban then an america tonight: special edition, only on al jazeera america
>> welcome back, guys. crystal, you were about to take us on the most awesomely nerdy police ride along ever. >> it was awesomely nerdy. go along with police officers and the computer was influencing where we went and when we got there we saw some pretty interesting stuff so let's take a look. >> roll call, santa cruz police department, the calm before the storm. >> it's coming around. take a look. >> our crime stats are scho showing the efforts you are making and overall we are down 12% on all crimes. >> lock load and hit the road. they are armed with an entirety new type of law enforcement
weapon. the ability to predict where crime is going to occur. we've rolled out with them to see how it works. is. >> so downstairs here this is where we house the operations division of the police department. >> deputy chief steve clark is a 20 year veteran of the santa cruz police department. he knows the place inside and out. he also knows where it needs to go in the future. a knowledge that led him to an innovative predictive police software called predsel. >> we were focusing on burglaries, automobile burglaries and stolen cars. this showed us where these were likely to occur. at that point we figured out we had something here. >> it sounded like a tom cruise movie.
>> it really doesn't know anything about the demographics of individuals who live in that area. what the economic statuses of these individuals are or anything about the person. it's all area-specific. >> today predpul is more than a toy to tinker with by the scpd. it is a tool in their arsenal. >> this is a live map of where we think predictive zones are. the orange dots is where he woo have auto thefts. you'll see locations where we've had auto theft, but there isn't anything around them. the algorithm weighs those and lets us know if this is a significant thing to be concerned about for this are shift. >> i have an academic science background. data is king. when you think of police work you think of guys going with
their gut and using instinct to motivto -- motivate where they d be going. what have you learned from predpull? >> we are telling where you the best locations are to be on any given time of the day. and police what you see. >> police what you see. and as it turns out when you know what to look for and more importantly where to look for it, you can see a lot.. >> there's a hot spot in this neighborhood, which looks like seabright and murray. >> let's look at seabright and murray, i've got people sitting in this car, in this neighborhood. why on earth would anybody sit in a car in a neighborhood? now watch their reaction to me. >> what's going on guys? how are you? >> good, how about you? >> we're good man, just cruising enthuse the neighborhood. do you guys live here? >> we're working at the boardwalk.
>> what do you do there man? what do you supervise? >> rides. >> rides. >> you at any time look like you stopping. all right. >> you have a good day. >> you too. >> there you go and i can't describe it to you but there was something about the way they reacted to me. >> and now they're leaving. >> and now we have an open car door here but i've got an open gate on this house as well. so we're going to get out and we're going to take a look at thi at this. police department. is this your car with the door open? >> we just came home. >> thank you. >> you bet, we're patrolling your neighborhood. i'm sure you have heard about the predictive policing model. your house is in the middle of one of the zones. >> assault down 9%, burglaries
down 11% and robberies down 27%. meanwhile auto theft recovery was up 22% and arrests were up 56 percent. >> we're seeing how santa cruz is using this for police work and it's administrator spreading to other cities in the country. for the past three months the seattle pd has been incorporating the new software into its patrols. >> i think any police agency is based on culture, you know we're tied to our past. and this is sort of a paradigm shift in how officers have done policing. before it was random patrol and go find something, right? so you're successful if you write that ticket, if you make an arrest. but in this, if you're out there and your presence alone dissuades a criminal from committing a crime, you're successful. >> for all the agencies using predpul it's about using creation with instinct and ringing up results.
>> it's amazing what you'll see as you drive through a neighborhood the things that pop out to you, the anomalies. he's got his pants about three quarters of the way down and he's walk through this business district. we're going to go stop and talk with him actually. what's going on man? what are we doing? how much did you have to drink? >> i don't drink that all. >> what's your medication of choice? >> marijuana. >> you looked like you used something a little bit more. you know what, arms behind your back. >> officers it's true. >> a little episodic here. >> we're here in the hot spot and then your instincts kicked in and you saw he was exhibiting suspicious behavior. we sat down stopped and talk with him and that's when you really start to get clues. >> he is really sort of the type of person that we need to be contacting and working the predictive policing system.
that's intuition and instinct and good old gut feeling, that's here. >> it is easy to see why predpull is good with santa cruz, we did ge come up with something else. >> here's my two daughters. hey guys, what are you doing? they're going to totally give me grief about it. >> that was super-cool. so how did you feel doing that? >> the really cool thing i thought about the use of the predictive policing model is not that it just helps us predict about crimes but it also gets the officers in the areas where they're needed. making connection with people in the neighborhood or shopkeepers in those high crime areas and that's really helping them do more than just make arrests. >> amazing.
like computers are connecting the police to the community. cool, to see kind of similar to marita's story, where l this technology is making us safer. same thing. lindsay, yours is a little bit different. >> mine is totally different. when i was told i was doing a story about two young guys experimenting with mushrooms, i had a different idea of what
and marita and they're telling me about their experiments this week. lindsay, tell me about your mushrooms. >> you won't believe this but we're talking about packaging goods. >> yeah, you know every cubic inch ever this soil here is teeming with millions of inches of mycilliul. there are fungi growing everywhere. a. >> a walk through the woods is pure pleasure but with two geniuses like gavin and evan, you are sure to stumble on something scientifically complex. >> you see this growing into the lock.
>> and somehow it involves a mushroom. >> we're here at design. this is a truly revolutionary biomaterials company. we're taking farm waste and mixing it with mushrooms and throwing away plastic foam used in packaging. >> why is this so important? what's the problem with styrofoam? >> there's about $10 billion to $20 billion of styrene products used, it's not that it's bad but it's fundamentally incompatible with the earth's biosphere. >> almost every big product we buy comes packaged in this material. but here's the problem with it. these are made from unsustainable
petrochemicals. it can take a billion years for this to biodegenerate and leave the earth. >> we use mushrooms as a resin and grow them in a mold for shapes like auto parts. if i were to look into that tree structure or along the forest floor what you'll find is a vast network of these uni organisms. >> do you grow mushrooms? >> we never grow mushrooms, the original concept of use be mushroom
roots, and combination of agricultural waste, didn't come into fruition for several months when i got together with gavin. >> we're about to show you how it works in seconds. the waste is cleaned then the mycelium gets added. then it goes through a trommel, a machine that grinds the waste. >> this reminds me of willy wonka and the chocolate factory. >> the mycelium does what the mycelium does, grow. all you have to do is stunt the growth of the mycelium so it can be sold to corporations like
dell computer and other fortune 500 companies. >> i can take this package material and actually bury it in my yard and within a couple of months it will biodegrade and add nu nutrients to the soil. >> they are now developing home insulation. >> welcome to the tiny house. >> so what is the tiny house? >> so our tiny house is both these walls are filled entirely with mushroom insulation. that provides the insulation and the structure of the walls. >> and what was really impressive about these mushroom building materials were their resistance to fire. >> don't try this at home, kids. >> we're going to leave that there and it will keep burning for a while. as you can see, it is not the safest thing to have in your house.
and we can keep an open flame on this for a few minutes before i.t. becomes any danger. >> that's amazing. >> but the mycelium itself has structural integrity. but overall you're going to have house. >> do you guys people like you're having an impact on humanity? >> we see this looking forward centuries not just days. we want to make sure this environment is available for our grandchildren and you're grandchildren' chirp and that we're taking best use of the natural resources that are provided us today. >> i absolutely love that story. there are two guys changing the world using fungi. >> they are. both of them and everybody who works at ecovative really feels like fungi and mycelium in particular, can completely
change the way we package and use other materials too. >> i was looking at the home insulation and wondering about that application. the problem is, it's biodegradable. stuff eats it. i'm not sure i want things eating my home. >> that's true and that's something they are still working with, trying to adapt to the materials. you know it's designs inspired by sanitary which i thir is totally -- think is totally totally cool. >> amazing. so interesting to hear about forrest fires , field work and packaging. >> go yind the -- behind the scenes at aljazeera.com/"techknow". from all of us here at "techknow", happy new year. we look forward to bringing you
more innovative stories that come our way in 2014. >> this is al jazeera. >> hello and welcome to the are news hour. top stories. the united states and europe announced sanctions against russia over its intervention in ukraine. the detention of a libyan oil tanker. >> from the rest of the dmus in europe. -- news in